These vegetarian zucchini boats with crumbled paneer, spices, and lemon juice are full of flavors and gorgeous! Serve them as a main with some tomato sauce and herbed salsa or as a delectable starter - a proper winner, whichever way you choose to serve them!
Zucchini, or courgette as it is also known, is a type of summer squash and belongs to the family of cucumbers and melons.
I love them for their taste and versatility. They are like flavor sponges and healthy! Read more about the goodness of zucchini.
Did you know that zucchini is made up of 95% water? An excellent way to rehydrate, especially in the hot summer months!
Are you also a fan of zucchini? Here are some recipes that will love:
- This easy zucchini Indian recipe is a quick curry that you can rustle up on a busy day, especially if you are looking for a gluten-free, vegan, and allium-free recipe to add to your menu plan.
- Zucchini curry with lentils: This has the flavor of coconut, the gentle heat of black pepper, and The smooth texture of yellow lentils. This dish is a delicious way to get your daily dose of vegetables and plant-based protein.
These vegetarian zucchini boats are free of
This recipe can be made vegan. See notes below.
Ingredients for stuffed zucchini
Less than 10 ingredients!
See the recipe card for quantities.
- Zucchini: I have used the smaller, light green ones. You may use large zucchini if those are what you have with you. You will need to adjust the quantity of stuffing (check notes below).
- Paneer: Make paneer at home or use what you get in vacuum-sealed packs in Indian grocery stores.
- Zucchini pulp: This is the zucchini flesh that you scoop out. It tastes delicious, why waste it?! Plus it adds volume to the stuffing.
- Ginger: Fresh root ginger. Peel the skin, if you want to. I don't.
- Oil: I have used light olive oil. You can use extra virgin olive oil or any oil as per your preference.
Why this zucchini boats recipe works
📌 Requires less than 10 ingredients ans comes together in under 45 minutes
📌 It is delicious and healthy! (see nutrition chart below)
📌 You can have it as a snack, serve it as a starter or along with your meal (see serving suggestions below).
📌It is a crowd-pleaser.
📌This dish has no onion or garlic and can be made vegan (see notes below).
What is your favorite zucchini recipe? Do let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you. - Padma
Let's make this gorgeous-looking vegetarian stuffed zucchini.
- How do you hollow out zucchini? Wash and cut each zucchini in half - lengthwise. Use a sharp spoon or butter knife to scoop the flesh out gently. Be careful not to go too close to the edges or poke holes in the skin.
- Chop the zucchini flesh.
- Grate or coarsely pound the ginger.
- Grate or crumble the paneer with your fingers.
- Measure and keep the rest of the ingredients ready.
- Preheat the oven to 400℉ (200℃)
- Grease a baking tray with ½ teaspoon of oil and keep ready.
Step 2: Flash-cook the zucchini. In a rice/pasta pot, bring some water (just enough to immerse the "boats") to boil. When the water begins to boil, add salt and the zucchini boats. Cook them for 2 minutes - just enough for them to absorb the salt and become soft.
Drain and set them aside.
Step 3: Make the filling.
- Place a skillet on medium heat and add oil to it.
- Add the chopped zucchini flesh. Fry for a minute over medium heat.
- Add the spices - cumin powder, salt, ginger, and crushed black pepper. Fry them for 30 seconds.
- Add the paneer and mix gently. Fry for a minute more.
- Add the lime juice, mix and take off the heat.
Top tip: Do not cook the paneer for too long - it will become dry and chewy.
Step 4: Divide the filling into 12 portions.
Step 5: Stuff each zucchini boat with a portion of the filling.
Step 6: Arrange them carefully in an oven-proof baking dish and bake for 10 minutes or until the zucchini are cooked and the paneer begins to become golden brown.
Keep an eye on them - paneer is delicate and can burn easily.
Step 7: Turn off the oven and let the stuffed zucchini boats rest in the hot oven for 5 minutes.
Serve them warm. Check the section below for serving suggestions and inspiration.
Tips to make perfect zucchini boats
My girls love this dish and so it gets made on repeat in our household!
- Choose zucchini that are fresh, firm, and tender. This is important for them to hold their shape when boiled and baked.
- When flash-cooking the boats, make sure you do not overcook them. Set a timer. Overcooked zucchini will not be able to hold its shape with the weight of the filling.
- Use fresh paneer. Paneer that has been kept for too long will be sour and chewy.
Notes and substitutions
Make it vegan: Substitute paneer with tofu or vegan cottage cheese.
Want more flavors?
- Sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese (check for vegetarian one).
- Add 1 small onion and 1 clove of garlic - finely chopped.
- Drizzle some olive oil just before serving.
- Add ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the filling.
Baby zucchini or large zucchini? I have used baby zucchini for this recipe. If you are using large zucchini, you will require more paneer and spices.
Alternatively, use 3 large zucchini (instead of the 6 small ones).
- Serve these vegetarian stuffed zucchini with some homemade and hearty marinara sauce and herbed salsa or cilantro lime dressing on the side.
- As a sensational starter on its own.
- As tea time snack or finger food.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The skin of zucchini is perfectly ok to eat. Make sure you wash them first though. Leaving the skin on will add fiber and more nutrition to the dish.
Yes, leave the skin on. You do not need to peel the zucchini. Make sure you wash them first though. Leaving the skin on will add fiber and more nutrition to the dish.
If you have made these delicious vegetarian zucchini boats, please take a moment to leave a comment and a rating below. This will make me super happy and motivate me to create more good content for you! xx Padma
Vegetarian Zucchini Boats with Paneer
- 1 Large Rice Pot
- 1 frying pan
- 1 mixing spoon
- 1 sharp edged spoon / butter knife (to scoop the pulp out of the zucchini)
- 1 baking dish/ tray
For the zucchini
- 6 small zucchini (courgettes) (900 to 1000 grams)
- water (enough to immerse them)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons neutral or vegetable oil
- All the pulp (from scooping the zucchini) (250grams, approximately)
- 1 block paneer (200grams, approximately)
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt (adjust as per taste)
- ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
- 3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1 and ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon oil
To serve (optional - use all, any)
- colorful cubed sweet peppers
- tomato sauce
- chimichurri sauce / herbed salsa
Prep the zucchini boats
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt to it. The water should be enough to immerse the zucchini halves.water, 1 teaspoon salt
- While the water is coming to a boil, cut the zucchini into half lengthwise (12 halves).6 small zucchini (courgettes)
- With a spoon or butter knife, gently scoop out the pulp from each half. Set the scooped flesh aside (it will become part of the stuffing) and set the 12 “boats” / halves aside.Make sure that you do not poke holes in the skin of the zucchini. We want the boats to hold their shape and not be punctured.
- By this time the water in the pot should have begun to boil. Put the zucchini halves in the boiling water and cook them for 2 minutes.Do not over cook the courgettes. They should be soft and slightly cooked at this stage. They will cook fully in the oven.
- Carefully take the zucchini halves out from the water and keep them aside to cool down a bit.
Get the oven ready
- Preheat the oven to 400 ℉ (200 ℃). Grease a baking tray with ½ teaspoon of oil and keep ready.½ teaspoon oil
Make the stuffing
- Take the paneer out of its wrapper and rinse it. Cut into large chunks and then crumble each chunk with your hands. Keep the crumbled paneer aside.You may, if you want a smoother texture, grate the paneer. However, I prefer to just crumble it with my fingers as, in this dish, I like the texture of crumbled paneer more than that of grated paneer.
- Chop the zucchini flesh (that you scooped out) finely – to match the size and texture of the crumbled paneer. Set it aside.
- Grate or finely mince the ginger. Keep aside.
- Squeeze out the juice from lime and keep ready.
- Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the zucchini pulp and fry for about 30 seconds.3 teaspoons neutral or vegetable oil, All the pulp (from scooping the zucchini)
- Add the salt and spices. Fry for another 30 seconds.1 inch piece fresh ginger, ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper, 1 and ½ teaspoons ground cumin, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add the crumbled paneer. Mix well so that all the spices and flavors mix with each other evenly. Fry for 1 minute.1 block paneer
- Add the juice of lime and mix again. The stuffing is ready.3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Now let us assemble the “boats” and bake them
- Divide the stuffing into 12 parts. Spread each portion evenly on the courgette half.Make sure to keep all the stuffing inside the rim of the “boat” so that it does not spill. We do not want burnt bits of the filling!
- Place the stuffed zucchini in the greased baking dish and bake it in the pre heated oven for 8-10 minutes or until the zucchini are cooked through and the filling top starts to become brown. Keep an eye and make sure that the tops do not burn. Paneer is a delicate cheese and can burn in matter of seconds.
- Turn the oven off and let the zucchini boats rest in the hot oven for 5 minutes.
- Serve these delicious stuffed zucchini boats on a bed of tomato sauce, topped with cubed colorful peppers and with some herbed salsa or chimichurri. Enjoy!colorful cubed sweet peppers, tomato sauce, chimichurri sauce / herbed salsa
- Which zucchini to use?: I have used the smaller, light green variety. You may use the longer, darker green ones. Just bear in mind that you will either have to increase the quantity of the stuffing than what is mentioned in this recipe.
- Paneer: Use fresh paneer. You can either grate it or crumble it with your fingers.
- Want to make it vegan?: Just replace the paneer with tofu or vegan cottage cheese. Voila!
- Wish to add onion and garlic?: This recipe had no onion and no garlic. You can however add them if you like.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only.
Note: The nutrition information is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.